WASHINGTON - Avi Gabbay, while on his first visit to the United States since becoming leader of Israel's Labor opposition party, slammed Prime Minister Netanyahu for "abandoning" American Jews in favor of "narrow political considerations" in New York on Tuesday. Meeting with prominent American Jewish leaders, Gabbay expressed deep concern that Israel is currently facing "a deep crisis" in its relationship with American Jewry, and that American Jews are worried by reports of corruption within the highest ranks of the Israeli government.
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Gabbay met with prominent Jewish leaders including president of the World Jewish Congress Ron Lauder and Jerry Silverman, head of the Jewish Federations of North America. "I came here to listen, strengthen them and tell them that the people in Israel are with them," Gabbay said following the meetings. "American Jews contribute to our security abilities and are part of our national defense formation."
Gabbay became the leader of the Labor Party in July after winning the party's primary election. He joined the party in December 2016 after resigning from the Netanyahu government, where he served as Minister of Environmental Protection. Gabbay was a founding member of the Kulanu party, led by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. He left both Kulanu and the government following the resignation of former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon in May 2016. Before joining politics, he was the CEO of Bezeq, Israel's largest telecommunications company.
"We are facing a deep crisis with American Jewry mostly because of a lack of leadership from Netanyahu," Gabbay said on Tuesday. "Over here, they also hear the news about the corruption and the laws that are hurting our democracy, and they are very worried about it, just like us." Later this week, Gabbay will visit Washington, D.C., and attend the annual Saban Forum organized by the Brookings Institution.